12/02/2009 - 13:25

New draft rules for subclass 457 visas

12/02/2009 - 13:25

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Payment of a minimum salary and return travel costs for spouses are some of the draft regulations released by the federal government today for employers of subclass 457 visa workers.

New draft rules for subclass 457 visas

Payment of a minimum salary and return travel costs for spouses are some of the draft regulations released by the federal government today for employers of subclass 457 visa workers.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans said a panel of industry, union and state government representatives will begin assessing the proposed new regulations that will apply to all employers of subclass 457 visa holders.

He said the government is considering basing the minimum wage for visa holders on the market rate paid to Australian workers employed in similar positions.

"Paying market rates for Subclass 457 visa holders will effectively make them a more expensive option for employers," Senator Evans said.

"This will ensure that temporary skilled overseas workers are not employed ahead of local workers or used to undermine Australian wages and conditions.

"The principle of the Subclass 457 visa scheme is to supplement - not replace - the local workforce when there are serious skills shortages.

"The scheme is not to be used to employ overseas workers at the expense of local labour."

Also included in the draft regulations is a proposal to remove the requirement for employers to cover health care costs for visa holders.

Instead, workers will be required to take out private health insurance at their own expense and cover any school expense for their children.

Meantime, application rates for subclass 457 visas in January were 31 per cent lower compared to September last year, reflecting the change in economic conditions.

The declines were most pronounced in the construction, mining and manufacturing sectors, Senator Evans said.

 

 

The announcement is below:

 

 

The Rudd Government today released draft regulations outlining new sponsorship obligations for employers of temporary skilled overseas workers on Subclass 457 visas.

A panel of industry, union and state government representatives will now begin assessing the proposed new regulations to provide feedback to government.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said advice from the Skilled Migration Consultative Panel will assist the Government to finalise the sponsorship obligations that will apply to all employers of Subclass 457 visa holders.

The employer obligations were drafted following the Visa Subclass 457 Integrity Review conducted by industrial relations expert Barbara Deegan last year.

Proposed employer obligations to be considered by the panel include:

- Payment of a minimum salary to Subclass 457 visa holders;
- Payment of return travel costs for visa holders and their spouses; and
- Cooperating with inspectors exercising powers under the Worker Protection Act.

Senator Evans said the Government is considering basing the minimum wage for Subclass 457 visa holders on the market rate paid to Australian workers employed in similar positions.

"Paying market rates for Subclass 457 visa holders will effectively make them a more expensive option for employers," Senator Evans said.

"This will ensure that temporary skilled overseas workers are not employed ahead of local workers or used to undermine Australian wages and conditions.

"The principle of the Subclass 457 visa scheme is to supplement - not replace - the local workforce when there are serious skills shortages.

"The scheme is not to be used to employ overseas workers at the expense of local labour."

Senator Evans said that application rates for Subclass 457 visas in January 2009 were 31 per cent lower than in September 2008, reflecting the change in economic conditions. The declines were most pronounced in the construction, mining and manufacturing sectors.

"The 457 visa program is a demand driven scheme and it is showing that it is responding to the changes in the labour market," Senator Evans said.

The draft regulations also propose removing the requirement for employers to cover health care costs for temporary overseas workers.

Instead, Subclass 457 visa holders will be required to take out private health insurance at their own expense and cover any school expenses for their children.

Under the Worker Protection Act passed late last year, employers who fail to satisfy a sponsorship obligation may face administrative sanctions and/or pecuniary penalties of up to $33 000 from September 2009.

The Subclass 457 visa program is an uncapped scheme driven by labour market demand for employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers in Australia for up to four years.

 

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